NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Byron Leftwich threw for three touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career and also ran for a fourth score as the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 31-28 Sunday for their third straight victory.

The Titans (2-8) had dominated this series between the former AFC Central and now AFC South foes, winning six of seven, and 11 of the last 14. They ruined the Jaguars’ best season in 1999 a step short of the Super Bowl.

But this one wasn’t as close as the final score thanks to Leftwich. He shook off a very slow start and helped the Jaguars (7-3) win for the second time in three games in this rivalry – both in Tennessee.

Now, Jacksonville, with two more road games just ahead, is off to its best start since the 1999 season.

Tennessee had one last-gasp attempt after Steve McNair tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Roydell Williams with 10 seconds left. Typical of this season for the Titans, however, Craig Hentrich’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds.

Leftwich connected on only one of his first 10 passes, and his only completion was a deflection to the left guard. The Jags went three-and-out on their first five possessions.

The Titans sacked Leftwich twice and hit him repeatedly. He even had to leave the game for a play early in the fourth quarter. He returned, and then two plays later, connected with Matt Jones on an 18-yard TD pass that gave Jacksonville its first lead at 28-21.

Leftwich finished 22 of 38 for 258 yards with TD passes to Kyle Brady and Ernest Wilford.

Jacksonville sacked McNair three times and intercepted him once in handing Tennessee its fifth straight loss.

The Titans last led 21-14 after Kyle Vanden Bosch sacked Leftwich and knocked the ball out of his hand. Antwan Odom picked it up and ran 27 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:08 left in the third.

Leftwich needed only three minutes before tying the score again on an 18-yard TD pass to Wilford, who easily beat the shorter Reynaldo Hill in the right corner for the ball.

Fred Taylor started for Jacksonville after being listed as doubtful all week with a badly bruised right ankle that kept him out of last week’s victory over Baltimore. He didn’t help, as the Jags had minus-2 yards rushing in the first half. He didn’t play in the second and finished with six attempts for minus-8 yards.

Adam “Pacman” Jones, the Titans’ top draft pick, had a messy game for Tennessee. He set up the go-ahead touchdown just before halftime with an 85-yard kickoff return. But with the Titans trailing 28-21 with 6 minutes left, Jones failed to catch a Chris Hanson punt, which took a big bounce and went 74 yards.

With the ball at their 1, the Titans went three-and-out.

McNair did toss the 150th TD pass of his career, a 15-yarder to Chris Brown. The running back also scored on a 1-yard run just before halftime.

AP-ES-11-20-05 1640EST


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